We are delighted to announce that our ‘Hive’ logo is now a registered trade mark. You may notice the ® symbol added to our logo.
Not all companies choose to register their logo or brand but we think you would be crazy not to. Here is a quick summary of our findings, which led us to choose to register our brand.
What is a trade mark?
A trade mark is a name or a symbol that identifies a particular product, goods or service. A trade mark is a way for one party to distinguish themselves from another. In the business world, a trade mark provides a product or organisation with an identity which cannot be imitated by its competitors. The strongest means of protecting a mark is to register it. A registered trade mark is identified by the ® symbol.
So what are the benefits of registering your logo as a trademark?
1. Protection / Exclusive rights
Trade mark registration gives the proprietor the exclusive right to use of the mark in respect of the goods or services covered by it (there are 45 administrative classes of goods and services to choose from).
A registration also gives the owner the right to stop others from using confusingly similar marks for their goods or services. In some circumstances the owner of a registered mark can stop others from using a mark for goods or services which are not similar to those for which it is registered.
If you look at it the other way round, if you don’t register your trade mark, then someone else can. When a logo, symbol or name is unregistered there is always the risk that another business may register it and cause significant difficulties, perhaps by attempting to prevent your business from operating or expanding under its current identity. This immediately puts your business and any product or service development you are undertaking at risk. Securing a registered trade mark protects your brand, and provides you with the tools to prevent someone using a similar identity and riding off the back of your business. If you do not protect your trade mark by registering it, then you may find you are legally prevented from expanding your business.
2. Building value
As your product or service becomes successful, the trademark itself also starts to develop an intrinsic value. A registered trade mark can also act as security, meaning that a registered trade mark can be pledged as security to secure loan facilities much the same way as immovable property can be bonded. Business investors may assess whether you have taken the appropriate action to protect and secure your brand.
A registered trade mark can be licensed. A trade mark licence can be recorded on the trade mark register, giving the licensee rights to institute legal proceedings in the event of infringement.
A registered trade mark can be transferred. The same is not possible for a common law trade mark, which can only be transferred with the business.
Trade mark registration deters other traders from using trade marks that are similar or identical to yours in relation to goods and services like yours. By using the ® symbol, you put others on notice of your rights. Moreover, a registered mark can be found when others search the official register before choosing to commence using a particular name.
6. The right to use the symbol ® or “R” or word registered
Once the trade marks is registered the symbol ® or “R” or word “Registered” may be used for the goods and services listed in the registration.
Some basic guidelines for new marks
To be registrable:
- Your brand/logo must be distinctive.
- You can register a single word, logo, picture or a mixture of any of these. In fact, it can be anything that can be depicted graphically.
- Your brand/logo must not be descriptive eg. TASTY for a food product or deceptive SILKY for cotton goods
- Your brand/logo cannot be a common surname like SMITH or geographical name like MANCHESTER or conflict with a national flag for example
- To be registered your brand/logo must not be confusable with any earlier registered mark.
- All the above comments apply to new (unused) marks. In some cases, use of a mark for several years may make that mark registrable, even if it was not registrable when new and unused.
When should you register your mark?
When you way up the potential cost of changing the mark should you need to, versus the cost of registration, in virtually all cases it would be worth registering the logo or brand name. Particularly if you believe the mark has a future beyond a few months. The sooner you register your mark, the sooner you will have the advantages of registration outlined above.
How do you register in the UK?
It is always best to get a Intellectual Property lawyer involved to handle an application to register a trade mark, and handle the forms, amendments and queries during the process which may arise. However you can also register your mark yourselves directly with the UK Intellectual Property Office.
If you are interested in creating a new logo or refreshing your existing one before registering it please contact us to see how we can help. If you would like to see some of the logos we have already created please take a look at our Branding section.